Tal Temer

August 18, 2014:

Jericho Trent, Storm and Gambit investigate the scene of an atrocity in Syria

Tal Temer, Northern Syria

Once a small mutant enclave of some seven thousand people, now a mausoleum.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Northern Syria, Tal Temer

It had been a town of nearly seven thousand people. Big for the area. Kurds, Assyrians, Arabs. Nearly all of them mutants. New York isn't the only place where they've banded together to find a place they call home, after all.

Note the use of the past tense. It's now a town population Jericho. He's walking down the main street. No one moves. There's barely any sound other than the wind and the occasional barking dog. On his back are two weapons, both hugely oversized for a human. In fact he wouldn't even be able to carry either one of them were his strength subroutines active. His traces are bright blue as a result but he sticks out enough just being a guy in combat fatigues with a vehicle mounted grenade launcher and a sword as big as he is. The blue isn't going to give that much more away.

Kneeling down next to one of the many bodies in the street he looks closer. All the signs and symptoms are there. The horrible disfiguring, the near ebola like state of the body after death. The stench.

"Damn. I was too late…"

*

As Jericho looks over the streets of Tal Temer, a fog comes rolling in. Thick as pea soup, there is a roar of something overhead. Something coming lower to the ground.

Inside the Blackbird, the blanket of fog is not encasing the plane at all, giving the Blackbird ample viewing as it touches down. Storm looks over to the passenger seat, her eyes glowing a soft white. "We have arrived, my friend."

The modified SR-73 is a fancy machine top of the line; Remy really has no idea how Xavier got his hands on such a thing but is thankful for it none the less well… maybe. It's been a long flight but fortunately

*

Storm is a natural. Still, long, boring flight. This was an urgent thing too and the only ones on hand was Storm and himself (immediately).

"Bout time, not dat I got a problem wid your flyin' but bout time."

Gambit is up and on his feet towards the side hatchway, which consists of a ladder that extends down, opens up and reveals the trench wearing Cajun with a hand on the rungs the other on an extended staff.

"Dis look reaaal bad, 'Roro bebe."

*

The fog… gets a pause from Jericho. The grenade launcher, 80 pounds, normally too heavy for a human to just heft, comes off his back and he starts to look around. This… isn't another chemical attack. There's no reason to do that, it's justh im here. Crouching for cover he moves toward what sounded like the an air plane landing.

"Too late to help, just in time for the party? Just my luck."

K'nert bounds up beside him and hisses. "We're not pulling out just yet."

*

The fog starts to dissipate as Storm comes out of the jet. It was only there to mask their landing, just in case there were any weapons fired. She steps down the ladder, her eyes still glowing white, but fading back to blue as the fog diffuses. She walks along beside her team-mate. "So many, Gambit," she says, making certain to use his X-name while they are on mission.

She kneels down to look over one of the bodies. "With this many dead, it is no small wonder that the Professor sent us. The psychic scream of so many dying at once must have been terrible. I do not detect any sort of wounds on the bodies, so what could have killed so many? Mutant perhaps?"

*

"Mebbe lets wear some protection." Remy says up in to the vessel towards Storm before opening up one of the side boxes to pull out a pro-mask to pull up over his mouth. "Dun mean like dat either… give some ideas though." He jokes, though his usual wistfulness is lacking. Springing free of the Blackbird his muffled murmurs are drowned out by the dying out whine of the Blackbird. He is not a religious man but right now he wishes he was for these people, so he could at least offer some extra peace. "This real bad." He finds himself saying again. Ororo's questions falling on deaf ears as his mind tries to take in the scenario. "Tell me I am asleep an' we back in de mansion."

Jericho is at this point unseen as is K'nert.

*

Jericho listens. Steps… voices. He's already positively identified the place as the site of a Hydra attack. Right now he's just intel gathering. Possible this is a Hydra team of some kind? He's at a loss to think whom else this might be.

Coming around the corner he levels his weapon, eyeing the two silhouettes through the mist.

"Who goes there?!" Not original but better, in this case, than just opening fire.

*
Storm slips the mask on her face, not saying anything to Gambit when he teases about a different sort of protection. She puts on a pair of latex gloves as well and opens the victim's mouth. She shakes her head slowly. "I wish I could, my friend. I would gladly rather this were a nightmare then be living in it."

When the voice calls out in the dissipating fog, Storm's jaw tightens. If this is the culprit, he is not going to be happy that Ororo will not kill people, cause he is going to be in enough pain that he will wish he was dead. With a wave of her hands, the fog splits like the Red Sea, revealing all three to the others.

*

Two silhouettes become one as Gambit utilizes that whole 'master thief' aspect of himself and fades from view seeking cover cutting off his dialogue with Storm. He'll hide, assess and prepare. She'll talk and draw the newcomers attention, determine if threat or not while the Cajun gets a better vantage point. Without the cover of fog he'll go with debris.

*

The figure in military fatigues about forty feet away is aiming an Unreasonably Large Gun (tm) at them, which should itself be a clue that this is not the culprit. Nothing in the dead they can see indicates death by such a trauma. No, other means were used to acommplish this. In fact, there's no real sign of recent fighting at all. Oh, also the figure in question is covered in glowing blue circuit like marks. And has a sword. Which is also Unreasonably Large

For a long, tense moment he stares Storm down. "Odd place to run into other people…" The uniform, such as it is, catches his eye. Not really Hydra make, though Hydra's pretty variable.

"Mmmmmm…" That barrel finally lowers a few inches, dipping away from storm. "What are you doing here?" It's more a curious question and less a demand though the man is clearly on guard.

*

Noting that Gambit has slipped into hiding, Storm takes point. It's what she does best. She holds herself with regal bearing, staring down at the man approaching her. Even with the breathing apparatus on her face, she is still unmistakably exuding confidence. "I am Storm, of the X-Men. I came when my team was told of something large happening here. And you are?"

Her blue eyes are level with his own, not looking away for a moment. She trusts that Gambit will do exactly what he needs to do.

*

Gambit repositions himself at as overwatch within range to land a card or a dozen on Aspect should he need to. Now he's not hiding himself though; he's actually walked up a small rise of crushed cement where a bus had flown off the road and smashed in to a rather weak building, topplling it, melding the two together in a post-apocalyptic mesh of highrise. He figures he was hesitant on his evasion at intro anyhow and was likely spotted even if it was brief.

*

Jericho doesn't seem to be inclined to point the weapon at Storm anymore. She's got quite a presence and Gambit's kind of slipped off his radar.

X-men, mmmm? Jericho's heard that word a few times now and it's starting to make him curious. "I'm someone who came to investigate." He sighs and looks around. "Too late, it seems. I… discovered what I thought was signs of an underground Lab here. I was wrong though. Wasn't a lab. It was a field test." He'd like to put the weapon away again but clearly he's still concerned his visitors could prove hostile.

*

As the weapon is no longer pointed at her, Storm takes on the air of a beneficent ruler before a loyal subject. Gesturing to the bodies at her feet, her eyes never leave Jericho's own. "I see no evidence of weapon use, bullet or blade. To kill this many people this fast, whatever killed them would have to be quite dire. So, what were they field testing? Do you know what did it?"

*

Gambit is leaning against his staff, an arm slung around it with a deck of cards shuffling from one hand to the other.

Kkrrrrrtkt

"You real lucky, mon ami. Dis' kinda ugly tend to make folks real angry. I seen 'Roro dere zap folks like a bug jus' for pointin' guns her way. I seen her do it 'fore."

A bound, another and he lands not far away from Jericho. Listening to the two as the staff has collapsed and been tucked away, those cards vanishing momentarily before re-appearing. Harmless cards!

*

"A virus." Jericho says quietly, moving slinging his weapon. "A virus targeted to kill mutants." Everyone in this town died in agony in hours. Worse, since it wouldn't have targeted most normal humans, or at least should not have, there's little way for him to tell what other assets were deployed here to make this happen.

"I'm looking for information on how they did it. Delivery systems, people involved… anything really." He doesn't mention, yet, that he's been tacking this for months. For the most part he's been a bit behind the curve, but he's never felt so helplessly, desperately trying to catch up as he does looking at these seven thousand odd dead. To say he feels responsible is an understatement.

When Remy reappears Jericho jumps, though he doesn't go so far as to point his weapon. K'nert hisses though, skittering to a halt between the Cajun and the hacker.

*

Storm stands up, levelling a stern gaze at Jericho. "Did you say a virus? A Hydra virus? I do not see signs of cyanide poisoning, so this would be stage one or two of the virus." She frowns. "Gambit, could you go to the jet and get the medical bag? Beast will want a sample." She strides among the dead, her hair starting to toss about as her emotions churn.

"This is Tal Temer. It had a population of almost seven thousand! You are saying they are all dead?" Remy would know that tone in her voice. The righteous anger of a goddess on the rise. She spins on her heel, her eyes now glowing an angry stellar white. "This was a FIELD TEST!?!"

*

"Sure, you okay wid dis one?" Remy questions before just assuming so and then makes for the jet where he will snatch up the med kit and return. It'll take him a moment to go there and back.

*

"Just a guess at this point, but it fits the MO. They'll want to make they can meet target lethality numbers before trying this thing on their actual operation." The hacker shakes his head. "Tal Temer is out in the sticks. This place is a warzone. I'm assuming they figured with all the fighting and chem weapon use, this might not be traced back to them." Something catches his eye in a nearby alley. Something large and mechanical. "Hold that thought…" He says as he moves toward it.

*

Storm clouds start to gather up above as Storm looks over around at all the people just lying dead in the street, their faces a rictus mask of pain and anguish. She looks this way and that. Someone, something, must be held responsible for this. Her head turns sharply as the soldier moves away from her. Seeing the movement in the alley, the winds cause her to rise up for a better view. "Reveal yourself," she demands of whoever, or whatever, it was that caught the eye of the soldier and herself.

*

What caught his eye is a metallic device. five feet tall with panels opened out like a flower. Examining it, Jericho notes an empty reservoir and some powerful fans. "Mmmmmm. Houston we have a delivery device…" Aerosolized. Breathed in then and introduced to the blood via that method. Damn it. That'll be hard to combat.

*

Landing on the roof of one of the buildings that borders the alley, Storm looks down at the 'flower'. She thrums her fingers on her hips. "Is it fully deployed? Would you allow me to take it to my scientist for examination?" She steps off the building and lets herself fall, landing down into a crouch with all the grace of a cat. "You are not wearing any protection. Is it gone then? Or are you not a mutant?"

*

Re-appears now medbag in hand as he moves up behind Storm and Jericho handing the parcel over once there. "Here we go… " Remy says a little winded it was a heck of a run. "What dis here?"

*

"If I'm not mistaken this is how they delivered the virus." Jericho kneels down. "Odd. I'd have expected them to have removed or destro-…" He opens a panel and then cuts off as he sees what looks like a bomb at the base of the machine. "Ah…" He looks at it closer. "C4, faulty blasting cap. Careful here…." He disconnects the bomb from the power source. "Whew. Okay. Well that explains that, doesn't it?"

Standing he turns to look at 'Storm'. "No, I'm not a mutant. I'm just a concerned citizen, you might say." He gestures to his cybernetic traces, glowing bright sky blue.

*

Storm looks over the lines that run along Jericho's arms like the fiberoptic light tattoos that you can get in Japan. She nods her head once, having calmed down a bit since her earlier outburst. The clouds remain in the sky, dark and foreboding. "Do you mind if my friend and I take this device with us, now that you have disarmed it? We have a scientist back home who might learn much from this." She sighs softly, looking down at the metallic flower with distaste. "I hope."

*

Gambit paces around the bomb looking object, that mask he is wearing being slid up so it's now on his forehead pushing his hair back out of his features. Those red on black eyes narrow as he looks the object over then Jericho. "We got lucky with this one. Maybe wan' check for more. Jus' incase."

*

Jericho rises again. "You can take it 'Storm.' I've recorded enough for my purposes." Which is to say, enough to try to figure out where the parts this thing uses came from.

"X-men… I've heard your name before, but not details. I'm going to guess you're the rescue team?" If it's just the two of them… he's glad he didn't shoot first. From near his feet K'nert hisses up.

"Still don't understand you, but I don't like this either." He says shaking his head. Just a guess.

"Check for more bombs? Or more canisters? I intend to do the latter. Just in case, yeah." Various gods. Angelo's gonna hate this. He does too. Damn him for not figuring this out quicker.

*

Dipping her head in a bow of thanks, Storm lifts the bomb on a gust of wind, cradling it as carefully as she would hold herself in the air. "If this is indeed the virus we have heard about before, then this does not bode well. A test of this magnitude means they are ready for the real thing. It is unlikely if they are continuing with this, that they know a serum has been designed against it."

"That you have heard of us is surprising. We tend to keep to ourselves. I hope what you have heard about us is favorable."

"We were the scouting party. There is no need to call a rescue team. However, these bodies will need to be disposed of. We have no idea what will happen when the diseased bodies start to decompose. Fire usually works best. Unless you have a better solution. Gambit?

*

"Corpse disposal? Let de government handle it. It best we not be around if this a biological kinda thing, we ain't got that sort o' readiness." He's not eager to stick around for that, Gambits eyes settle on Jericho, "Appreciate de help. 'magine we'll see you again real soon. Dis probably only the beginning." A frown is worn, not even the Cajun can be light in this situation. It's just too damned depressing, first one of his favorite comedians and now this nightmare. Worlds a harsh place sometimes.

*

Gambit hrm? Paranoid hacker builds dossier files. Just names and image scans. At the question of whether or not the things he's heard have been good elicit a so-so hand motion from Jericho. "Not entirely." He answers honestly. "But that is what that is." Things he suspects and things he knows he tries to keep separate. Also his personal feelings on other business.

"Perhaps, and perhaps not. I've got my own lines on this kind of thing. I try not to involve others who are uncomfortable with my methods. What very little I have heard suggests that you would be. In any case I hope you can get something useful out of that device. And I hope that you're right that Hydra is unaware of any countermeasures."

*

Storm says, "You do not wish to learn what we discover about this device then?" She seems curious about this soldier before her. Here to help, but not asking for information. Curious. She lets the gust of wind carry the de-activated bomb into the Blackbird. "Very well then. Thank you for your assistance. Gambit, we should get those samples to Beast quickly. We do not know how long they will be any good to him for.""

*

"Man of action?" Gambit grimaces and tips his head up and to the side, that mask being slid down again as he stares at a couple of bodies lumped together, mouths agape. Horrible. "Not much more we can do here, 'Roro."

*

"I'll do my own analysis. I'm not as scientifically savvy as some, but weapons of this type are something I understand very well. Still, should you wish to share, pass the information on to Agent May in SHIELD. And only her. If you describe me, I'm sure she'll know who to get it to."

*

He pauses to watch the device float away and then looks around at the thousands of dead. Someone, he hopes, will be here soon to dispose of these bodies. He needs to finish his own investigations and clear out before they get here. No one of the possible list of people who might come are likely to be happy to see him.

*

"They'll try this again I promise." The words 'fire for effect' come to mind. "We need to shut them down before they do. This isn't simple genocide. There's a calculated effect they're going for. It's just how they work." Glancing back up to the two 'X-men' he inclines his head. "Good luck with your investigations. I think your friend 'Gambit' has the right of it though. This place is biocontaminated and you'll need to scrub clean real good before you risk associating with anyone else." He's fairly sure that this virus has a low infection rate, which combined with a high lethality make it burn out easy, but it's 'in the wild' now and there's no telling what could happen.

"I'm probably immune and I don't even want to stay that long."

*

Storm would chastise Remy for calling her by her name when on a mission but, firstly she knows how her unique appearance and insistence on allowing herself to be used as a icon of mutant rights makes a secret identity rather close to impossible, and secondly, it wouldn't do any good. Remy is Remy. Once in the jet, she secures the bomb as snuggly as if it were a cargo of fine china.

Before closing the hatch, Storm nods her head to Jericho again. "I will be sure we are both thoroughly scrubbed down before we contact anyone else. Thank you again."

The hatch starts to close and Ororo heads to the pilot's chair of the Blackbird. "And no, Remy, I will not need assistance to scrub my back," she says, without skipping a beat.

*

Remy has no parting words for the man. Not even a good luck. No point it's just a snatch and go at this point so they can get out of there as quickly as possible, he figures someone who willing puts them in a place like that is already thinking steps ahead. He would be.

"Thought hadn't crossed my mind, chere. Remy would have offered to scrub other parts if he woulda been. But a time like this? Non. We okay, mon bebelle."

"Dis a time for sadness an some respect."

*

The two depart. Jericho watches them go. From the ground K'nert hisses up at him impatiently. "Ten more minutes and we're done. And yes, there is Cherries Garcia at home."

With that, the cybernetic soldier turns and stalks into the ruins of a dead town, looking for the pieces he needs to bring down a reckoning.

*

American Broadcasting Group
Tal Temer, Syria

The world is still reeling from shock at the news that the mutant enclave of Tal Temer – a town of seven thousand people – has been wiped out in a WMD attack of unknown nature. Both Government and rebel groups have stridently denied involvement and accused the other. Multiple nations including the United States, Israel, Great Britain and Egypt have called upon the UN to investigate, though fighting has been very heavy in the region and the safety of the teams cannot be guaranteed. Others on the UN have suggested sending SHIELD though China and Russia have both resisted the notion and it remains unclear how the politics of the situation will fall out.

Mutants rights groups in the US have staged protests at the atrocity in front of the White House, calling upon the US to find and punish the perpetrators of this egregious violation of mutant rights. Additional protests are planned around the country later in the week.

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